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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

[Soupe de Poisson] Simplified version of Julia Child's Fish Soup recipe

It was not in Marseille where I had la soupe de poisson marseillaise, fish soup, for the first time. 

I shared my first soupe de poisson with then 19-month-old Remi at the very famous brasserie Lipp on Boulevard St.-Germain. 

As a great fish lover, I fell in love with the "soupe"  right there and then. 

Can't you imagine how good it was?

I think you might guess the taste of the "soupe de poisson" pretty well, from this photo. 

I like and dislike Julia Child's recipes at the same time. I like her recipes since she wrote the ingredients of French dishes in volumes while French recipes for french dishes mostly provide ingredients in weight. I don't like weight measuring as it takes more time than volume measuring.
On the other hand, I don't use her recipes often since her recipes are so classic and authentic French that they naturally require more time to prepare. To be honest, when you have a full time job and two young kids, you can't allocate two or three hours to make dinner on daily basis. In addition, eating French food is pricey to make in Canada. You need to limit yourself to make French dishes occasionally unless you don't mind seeing grocery bills sky rocketing. :(

However, this soupe de poisson recipe is not too long or too expensive to make, if you choose to use frozen fish as I do.
My version of soupe de poisson is different from the most of soupe de poisson recipes including Julia Child's mainly in two things:

i. I don't strain the soup as I like it chunky. I either have it with solid chunks or have it blended.
ii. I don't make rouille separately as the fish soup without rouille is more than delicious by itself.
Of course, it's even better with rouille.
But, I'll add rouille recipe at the end.

Here goes the Soupe de Poisson recipe from Julia Child:
(adapted from P.50 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking I)
1 large onion
1 stalk of white & light green part of leek
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, mashed
1 lb ripe tomatoes or 1+1/2 cup drained canned tomatoes
8 cups water
6 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon fennel
2 big pinches of saffron
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon salt
3 lbs lean fish or frozen fish
(e.g. cod, haddock, halibut, sole, perch,  or polluck)
1/2 cup spaghetti broken into 2-inch pieces

Hard toasted French bread
Rouille (recipe at the end)

1. Cut oinion and leak in small pieces.

Mince onion and leek in food processor.

2. Cook the onion and leek slowly in olive oil for 5 minutes or until almost tender but not browned.

3. Stir in the garlic and tomatoes. Raise heat to moderate and cook 5 minutes more.

4. Add water, herbs, seasonings, and fish to saucepan and cook uncovered at a moderate boil for 33-40 minutes

5. Strain the soup into the saucepan, pressing juice out of ingredients.(as I said, I don't strain.)
I rather blend all the solid chunks together. It's not as delicate as a classic method, but if you like chunky soup, my way is not bad :D

Correct seasoning. I added a few drops of Cumbava oil which adds great flavour to seafood.
You can see how can enjoy cumbava oil and oyster together here: 
6. Stir in cooked pasta and boil for 10-12 minutes or until tender.

(Without straining or blending)

7. Pour the soup into a soup plate and pass the cheese and rouille separately.


1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper simmered in salted water and drained or canned pimiento
1 small chili pepper boiled until tender or drops of Tabasco sauce
1 medium potato cooked in the soup
4 cloves garlic, mashed
1 teaspoon basil or thyme
4-6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
2-3 Tablespoon hot soup

1. Pound all ingredients in a bowl or mortar for several minutes to form a very smooth, sticky paste
2. Drop by drop, pound or beat in the olive oil as for making a mayonnaise. Season to taste
3. Just before serving, beat in the hot soup by driblets.
Serve in a sauceboat.


It's pretty straight forward, isn't it?
It's unbelievably tasty.

Mr. D and I brought leftover for lunch. It doesn't smell much :)

Soupe de Poisson


  1. I and my husband tried this at brasserie lipp at year end 2012 and it did hit the spot.
    It was just divine. But I instinctively felt that making it myself will never happen. Too many ingredients and too many processes.. So just having a good look at your blog gives me a sense of vicarious satisfaction. ;-)
    Your soup looks so yummy.
    Wish i could go to the lipp and eat it heartily again.

    1. Hi there,
      also did we love the "soupe de poisson" at Lipp. The soup was amazing.
      But, believe me (or Julia :)) this one is really good, too.
      Same here. We'd like to go back to Lipp some time.... in a couple of years!
      Have a nice weekend!